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Wishing Tree Play Cafe offers a new take on dining with the kids

Jennie Enloe looks at the rambunctious crowd around her.

“If they throw food on the floor, it’s OK. If they act like a 3-year-old, it’s OK,” Enloe says.

That’s good, because in this case, they are 3-year-olds. Some of them, even younger.

Two of her employees are dodging between the chairs of her bustling business: equal parts café and play area. The brooms seem stuck to their hands.

“All day,” she says, nodding at one of them.

Enloe grudgingly laments that the business she and her husband started, The Wishing Tree Play Cafe, at 1011 Meadowlands Drive in White Bear Township, is hard to brand.

“Nobody knows what a play café is,” she said.

Granted, there’s not much out there like it. Two-thirds of the indoor space is taken up by a padded play area, the rest has sturdy tables, some low to the ground.

But even on a Monday morning, it’s packed. Since opening in September, in a strip mall a block from a major road, word has gotten out.

On one wall sits the café counter: boasting not hot dogs or pizza or fried … well, fried anything, but crepes, paninis and ribs, salads and soups, and — one of their most popular items — a $2 plate of kid finger food: strawberries, black beans, peas, eggs, cheese.

Jennie Enloe admits she loses money on the plate, but it does its job. Kids eat it.

“I hate hot dogs and chicken nuggets,” she says.

The idea for the business sprouted from some long-awaited good news in Enloe’s life. News she wasn’t able to share.

“If my kid did not get sick this never would have happened,” she said.

Enloe’s 3-year-old son, whom she nicknamed “Caboose” because he’s the youngest of the family’s five boys, had been in and out of the hospital for years with a laryngeal cleft, preventing him from eating and drinking properly. After two years and three surgeries, he was finally given a clean bill of health.

She wanted, badly, to tell her friends. In person.

But meeting them at a restaurant, with all their kids, was just … uncomfortable.

“I knew other moms needed a place to gather and talk. Whether it’s good news or anything in between,” Enloe said. “I mean, I had the greatest news of my life, but I couldn’t share it with my girlfriends.”

There are plenty of places for parents to sit and interact with each other at the Wishing Tree Play Cafe in Vadnais Heights, owned by Jenny and Bryan Enloe, Tuesday, May 16, 2017.  Scott Takushi  Pioneer Press
There are plenty of places for parents to sit and interact with each other at the Wishing Tree Play Cafe. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

It was the same, she knew, for other parents.

“I wanted a place where you could go out to eat as a family. Children deserve to be heard. … To be part of the family, not quiet. They’re not encouraged to work on their social skills, often they’re just put in a chair.”

So Enloe, a preschool teacher who moved from Boston to the Twin Cities in 2011 to marry, convinced her husband to go all-in with her.

Bryan Enloe grew up as a “carnie,” selling pizza from his father’s stand. He came to the Minnesota State Fair in his teens while traveling the fair circuit and still sells pizza at fair events.

The two met at a fair in Texas.

“He had good pizza,” Jennie Enloe says.

Both of Bryan’s parents are educators: his mother was a curriculum developer for a public school district in south Texas, while his father taught eighth-grade social studies.

And Jennie Enloe used to teach preschool herself, back in Boston.

“Preschool doesn’t pay well,” she laughed. But it gave her something to chat about with the in-laws.

The “play-café” idea was something that had been percolating for years. Plus, in Jennie Enloe’s mind, starting a business was preferable to having a sixth kid.

“After five, I said no, let’s open up a café,” she said.

“I would have a hundred kids. We both love kids. We both saw the need,” Bryan Enloe said.

One of the café’s patrons, Kristi Hall, 30, of White Bear Lake said she read about the business on Facebook and popped in with her two kids, an 8-month-old and 2-year-old, for the first time in October.

She remembers that just after she walked in, her 2-year-old took a tumble and got a bloody nose.

“I was ready to just run out of there, and I’d been there five minutes” Hall said. But Jennie Enloe came running over with an ice pack, then milk, then a cinnamon crepe. The comfort kept coming.

“I feel that she just gets it,” Hall said. She’s been back five times.

Part of the reason for Wishing Tree’s popularity might also lie in how many events the Enloes bring in. From regular appearances by “princesses,” to clubs with children’s book authors (13 local authors are slated in coming months), to hour-long classes to keep kids occupied if adult patrons want to sit at a table on their own.

“This restaurant is just like parenting. You change, you grow, you figure it out. The first six weeks you don’t sleep at night,” Jennie Enloe says.

“I haven’t slept in six years,” Bryan Enloe quips.

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The Minnesota Project: My Minnesotan December

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Wishing Tree Play Cafe Grandparent Guests

Grandparents at Wishing Tree

We enjoy the many grandparent guests we have that come to play with us. It is so wonderful to see the love in their eyes, and the way they interact so tenderly. It just melts our hearts.

We just love this image of these two. EveryTuesday it’s a date for this little love bug and her Grandpa at The Wishing Tree. ❤️
Photo credit: Everbranch Photography

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New Years Means Yummy Salads!

Mexisota Salad Coco's Avocado Club Salad

With the New Years comes more salads!

Taking care of ourselves takes extra effort and planning when we are also busy raising little ones. At Wishing Tree Play Cafe you can not only have an awesome playdate but go home knowing you had a hearty, healthy meal as well! Win-win for you and your kiddo. At Wishing Tree Play Cafe, we take care of YOU!

So, two fun choices we suggest:

Everyone is raving about Coco’s Avocado Cobb with Chicken….
Delish…..this one has all natural chicken breast , romaine lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese crumbles, hard boiled egg, tomato, drizzled with raspberry herb vinaigrette.

Or our all-time favorite is MexiSota salad always a top hit!
With mixed greens, roasted corn, tomato, black beans, cheddar cheese, tricolored tortilla chips, chipotle ranch just only 6.29 need protein add chicken, fajita steak or carnitas! You decide.



Join us! Complimentary sign language class tonight at 5:30pm!

Sign LanguageCome enjoy a complimentary sign language class tonight at 5:30pm! (With regular paid admission)

Is your baby or toddler frustrated because they want to talk to you? Do you desire for your little one to communicate with you and share their wants and needs? Research shows that children who sign at an early age often have accelerated verbal language development, have an increased IQ, are less frustrated, and have a closer bond with their caregivers.
Sign language is also a great communication tool for kids with special needs or with delays in speech. Come out tonight to meet Dana from Tiny Fingers MN. In October she will offer a four-session class that will teach you and your little one over 160 signs through fun, interactive songs, games, books and lessons. You will receive handouts at each session to help you remember what you’ve learned. All signs are based on ASL (American Sign Language).

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The Crepes Specialists!

We are crepes specialists! Our ingredients are fresh, wholesome and amazing!

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Breakfast Crepes: Served with fresh fruit

Cinnamon French Toast: Sprinkled with cinnamon & powdered sugar, served with pure maple syrup & butter

Ranchero: Bacon, egg, avocado, black beans, cheddar cheese, tomato, onion

Ham & Egg: Ham, scrambled egg, cheddar cheese

B.E.S.T. Bacon, Egg, Spinach, Tomato 

Morning Sunrise: Egg, spinach, mushroom, tomato, onion and choice of cheddar or Swiss cheese

Parfait: Strawberry, yogurt and cinnamon granola.

Savory Crepes: Served with fresh greens 

Mexi-Sota: Chicken or carnitas with black beans, fire roasted corn, tomato, onion, avocado

Monte Cristo: Chicken, ham, Swiss, with powdered sugar and raspberry drizzle

Cuban: Ham, carnitas, pickles, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard

Chicken Divan: Broccoli & chicken in a divan cream sauce

Ham & Cheese, Mushroom, Spinach

Earth Mama: Spinach, mushroom, tomato, onion, balsamic glaze and choice of cheddar or Swiss cheese

Mi Amour Pizza: Mozzarella, fresh basil, tomato sauce, with a balsamic glaze

Sweet Crepes: Scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and gluten free options

Miss Crema’s whipped cream is house made daily and infused with love and vanilla.

Traditional: Choice of: Lemon Zinger, Cinnamon & Sugar, or Ghirardelli Chocolate, served with homemade whipped cream

Sweet Tooth: Chocolate sweet cream, chocolate & caramel drizzle, topped with Oreo crumbles

5 Little Monkeys: Banana, caramel, sweet cream, cinnamon and whipped cream

Berry Bonanza: Strawberries, bananas, chocolate drizzle, whipped cream

Minnie-apple: Caramelized apples, sweet cream, cinnamon sugar, fresh whipped cream

Pumpkin Patch: Pumpkin spiced sweet cream. Homemade whipped cream, graham cracker crumbles with caramel drizzle

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Introducing the Mexi-Sota Salad!

Our MexiSota Salad or Wrap has been a huge winner. Lettuce, avocado, black beans, tomato, cheese, lime wedge, tortilla strips drizzled with chipotle ranch. Need protein add chicken, fajita steak or carnitas! Warning, you will start to crave this salad…. We want to offer our families wholesome, delicious, fresh food choices! We have something for everyone, even fussy eaters. Check out our full menu here!


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Sign Language Classes

14433010_1686911501628158_7929029612494082315_nWant a peek inside Coco’s Cottage? Today we had our first Sign Language class from Dana from Tiny Fingers. If you missed today be sure to stop by next Monday at 5:30 PM. Try on a class to see if we are a fit. It’s free with a regular paid admission. Check out our full schedule of classes!

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Catch Up with Friends While They Play!

Could it be true? A place you can let them safely play, with a wholesome menu, amazing lattes, crepes and more… Plan your time to catch up with a friend. Tag a friend to this post on Facebook to be entered to win 2 free passes to play and two speciality drinks on the house. Winner will be announced Monday 9/19 at 9pm! Good luck!

The best part is, we clean up the toys and dishes and you can relax while the kids play.

Mom's Morning Out